How to Find and View Hidden Files/Folders on Mac

Learn how to view hidden files on Mac in this complete guide. It includes different techniques that can help you see hidden files and folders on Mac easily.

Mar 29,2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

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“How to view hidden files and folders on Mac? I had some files visible on my Mac earlier, but now I can’t see them anymore!”

See hidden files on Mac

If you are a Mac user, then you might be having a similar query as well. Just like you, numerous other Mac users also encounter similar situations these days. Ideally, your files and folders on Mac can get hidden automatically or you could have done it yourself. The good news is that it is a minor issue and you can easily see hidden files in Mac again. In this post, I’m going to tell you how to find hidden files on Mac in different ways.

Part 1: What Are the Hidden Files or Folders on Mac?

Ideally, any file or folder can be hidden in Mac. The standard file or folder would be depicted in the usual way in Finder and its icon won’t be dimmed. On the other hand, a hidden file or folder would have a dimmed icon (if they are visible at all). It represents any file or folder that a user would have hidden or the system itself hid.

See hidden files on Mac


Part 2: Four Ways to Find and See Auto Hidden Files/Folders

As you can see, there can be all sorts of system or user data that your Mac might hide. Though, there are plenty of ways to see hidden files on Mac and access them the way we like. You can implement either of these solutions to learn how to find hidden files on Mac.

Method 1: Using Keyboard Shortcuts

To start with, I’m going to let you know the correct key combinations on Mac that you can use to see hidden files on Mac. All you got to do is launch Finder on your Mac and just browse to a location where you think your hidden files are stored. Now, press the Command+ Shift + Period (Dot) buttons at the same time.

See hidden files on Mac

If there are any hidden files or folders in the location, then it will make them visible. You can press the same key combinations again to hide them.

Method 2: Go to Finder to View Hidden Files/Folders

Another smart solution to learn how to view hidden folders on Mac involves the use of the Finder. It is an inbuilt application in Mac that helps us navigate the file storage of the drive. Therefore, you can just go to the Library folder to view all files stored in Mac, including the hidden data. Here’s how to see hidden files on Mac via Finder.

Step 1. Just go to the Finder tab on your Mac’s top screen and press the ALT key

Step 2. While still pressing the ALT key, click on the “Go” option and visit the Mac’s Library.

See hidden files on Mac

Step 3. Alternatively, you can also click on Finder > Go > Go to Folder and enter the “~/Library/” string.

See hidden files on Mac

Step 4. That’s it! Once the Library folder is opened on Mac, you can view all the files and folders stored in it. You can just press the Command+ Shift + Period keys as well to make sure the hidden files are visible.

See hidden files on Mac

Method 3: See Hidden Files on Mac via Terminal

While Finder lets us interact with our Mac via a graphic-user interface, Terminal provides a command-line interface. You can enter certain commands in Terminal and your Mac would process them accordingly. Just be sure that you enter the right commands so that it won’t harm the firmware in any way. To learn how to find hidden files on Mac via Terminal, follow these steps:

Step 1. Firstly, just go to your Mac’s Finder > Applications > Utilities and launch Terminal from here (as an administrator).

See hidden files on Mac

Step 2. Great! Once the Terminal application is launched, enter the following commands on your Mac:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles true;
killall Finder

Step 3. That’s it! As the string is processed, the application will automatically make the hidden files and folders visible that you can access via the Finder.

See hidden files on Mac

Please note that the above command is only to see hidden files and folders on Mac. To hide your folders again, you can enter the same command, but replace the Boolean value from “true” to “false”.

Method 4: Use a Third-party File Manager

If you have found the above-methods to learn how to find hidden folders on Mac a bit complicated, then consider using a third-party application instead. There are plenty of File Managers out there designed for Mac to help us browse the drive with advanced features. Some of the popular Mac File Managers are Forklift, Path Finder, muCommander, Leap, Xtra Finder, etc.

Step 1. To start with, just install and launch a reliable File Manager. For instance, let’s consider that we are using Forklift on our Mac. You can launch it and view the stored data in your system.

Step 2. Now, simply browse the drive and select the folder of your choice. Afterward, click on View and go to the “View Options” from the dropdown menu.

Step 3. This will provide various options for how you view these files. Just make sure that the “Show Hidden Files” option is enabled and save it. This will let you see hidden files on Mac easily.

See hidden files on Mac


Part 3: How to Scan and View Manually Hidden Files/Folders on Mac?

Unlike the automatic hidden files or folders, extracting the manually hidden data on Mac can be tough. For this, you can take the assistance of a dedicated third-party application like Wondershare Recoverit. The application is extremely secure and easy to use – all you got to do is select a location from where you wish to see hidden files on Mac. The tool is compatible with all the leading macOS versions and supports leading data types like photos, videos, documents, compressed files, and more.

Apart from extracting the hidden data, you can also use the application to recover your lost content or fix corrupt videos as well. To learn how to see hidden folders on Mac using Recoverit, the following steps can be taken.

Step 1: Pick a source location to scan

Firstly, you can install Recoverit Data Recovery on your Mac and from its home, you can select a source to scan (drive, volume, or a folder). You can also connect an external device and select it from here as well.

mac data recovery

Step 2: Let the application extract your data

After selecting a location to scan, click on the “Start” button and just wait for a while for the process to be completed. You can halt the process in between and even see the progress from an on-screen indicator.

mac scanning lost files

There are also several inbuilt filters in the application that you can use to narrow the search on the basis of different factors.

mac filter recovered files

Step 3: View Hidden Files and Save them

That’s it! The interface will display all the extracted data (including your hidden files) into different categories. You can also preview the results like your videos, photos, documents, etc. and select what you wish to save. Click on the “Recover” button in the end and save your files to the location of your choice.

mac photo recovery


Part 4: How to Prevent Manually Hidden Files/Folders on Mac?

Now when you know how to find or view hidden folders on Mac, you can easily meet your requirements. Furthermore, consider following these simple suggestions to prevent something like this from happening.

There you go! After reading this guide on how to find hidden folders on Mac, you would be able to view all kinds of data in it. As you can see, I have listed ways to see files in Mac that were hidden by the system or manually by any user. In this way, you can access all your data and even troubleshoot any issue. You can feel free to implement these suggestions and share this guide with others to teach them how to view hidden files on Mac too.

Sue Wayne

staff Editor

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